Police Abuse, Police Misconduct and Police Brutality
The majority of police officers have the best interests of citizens in mind when they are on duty.
However, when a police officer (or other government official) violates someone’s civil rights the police may be subject to liability for their actions.
Police misconduct and police abuse cases used to be very hard to prove, but these cases are easier to prove with the advent of body cameras. Even though most police officers perform their job with honor and respect for the badge, some misconduct and abuse does occur.
It is important to remember that you have rights.
Speaking to an attorney about police misconduct, police abuse, and brutality can be a way to ensure that your rights are not violated.
Or that if they are that you are adequately compensated.
The first thing that you need to do is determine whether police misconduct, abuse or brutality actually occurred.
It is important for you to know what your rights are because if you do not know what your rights are you will not be able to recognize a situation where your rights have been violated.
If you have any questions about whether your civil rights have been violated you should discuss your situation with an attorney. After you obtain a basic understanding of your rights, you should consider whether you will seek a remedy for the violations.
We represent individuals in police misconduct, police abuse and police brutality cases who have had their civil rights violated. The warriors for justice are happy to answer any questions that you may have about these issues.
What Are my Civil Rights?
Civil rights are rights that every individual has regardless of race, gender or religion.
Your civil rights are listed in the United States Constitution. One of the most crucial amendments that contains civil rights is the fourth amendment.
The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Warrantless searches and seizures are per se unreasonable unless an exception to the warrant requirement is met.
There are other civil rights that police officers could violate. If you believe that your civil rights have been violated you should discuss the situation with an attorney.
When a police officer, sheriff or other state or local official violates your civil rights you can file a lawsuit in order to recover damages.
Individuals can recover for economic damages and emotional damages when their civil rights are violated.
Economic damages include cost of medical care and treatment.
In addition, emotional damages can be recovered.
One of the most common emotional harms that can occur is post-traumatic stress disorder. If any emotional harms occur as a result of the brutality the individual can recover damages for these emotional harms.
You may also be able to recover punitive damages if the police officer’s conduct was extremely reckless or willful. Punitive damages are designed to punish the officer for this reckless and willful conduct.
What are the different types of Police Misconduct?
There are many different things that the police can do which would be considered police misconduct.
- wrongful arrest
- sexual abuse
- unjustified police shootings
The section below discusses each type of police misconduct. This is not an exclusive list of every type of police misconduct that could occur.
If you believe that you have been the victim of police misconduct you should discuss the situation with an attorney.
There is a very fine line between force that is necessary to respond to a situation and force that is considered to be brutality. Each situation should be assessed on a case by case basis, and all facts and circumstances should be considered when an investigation of whether brutality occurred in a particular situation.
When police commit police brutality, they have committed police misconduct. There are a lot of different types of brutality.
One of the most common types of police brutality is excessive force.
Excessive force occurs when the police use force when responding to a situation that is not warranted. Excessive force is often physical. Police should avoid using unnecessary physical force.
This includes using batons, pepper spray, and tasers in situations where this force is unwarranted.
Many people forget that police brutality includes more than just physical violence. Brutality can also occur though psychological intimidation. This can include intimidation tactics that are prohibited by police procedure.
Police brutality is serious, and there are investigative procedures that are in place in order to investigate claims of brutality.
However, even though investigations occur a lot of claims regarding police brutality are not thoroughly investigated. This is why it is important to speak to an attorney about any police brutality that you have experienced.
Another way that police misconduct can occur is through wrongful arrest.
An arrest is considered a seizure of an individual’s person.
In order for an arrest to be legal, it must be supported by probable cause.
Probable cause is determined on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes courts will defer to the officer when the case could go either way.
However, if there clearly was not probable cause the courts will not defer to the officer. If there was not probable cause to support the arrest then the arrest was wrongful and could be considered police misconduct. Police misconduct also occurs with police question a suspect without reasonable suspicion.
If you believe that you were wrongfully arrested you should speak to an attorney about your situation because you may be able to sue for civil rights violations or false imprisonment.
Most police officers do not abuse their position.
However, some police officers do not honor their pledge to uphold the law. There have been instances where police officers sexually assault a citizen while the officer is on duty.
Obviously, sexual abuse is police misconduct.
Many people may be afraid to report sexual abuse that they suffered at the hands of a police officer. There are instances where officers threatened sexual abuse victims with jail time if they reported the abuse.
The lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy are happy to answer any questions that you have if you want to talk to a lawyer about any type of sexual abuse that you faced at the hands of a police officer.
Unjustified Police Shootings
Recently, there has been a tragic increase in the number of police shootings. Using deadly force when it is not warranted is a type of excessive force and can be considered police brutality. As mentioned in the previous section about police brutality, police officers are only permitted to use the mount of force that is necessary to respond to a situation.
Police officers will often claim that the shooting was necessary given the circumstances.
If you have been injured after a police shooting or if a loved one passed away after a police shooting you should discuss the situation with a civil rights attorney.
Your attorney will be able to perform an investigation in order to determine whether you have a cause of action.
Coercion and Blackmail
A police officer can commit police misconduct if the officer abuses his power through use of tactics such as coercion or blackmail.
This will normally occur in situations where the officer threatens to arrest someone unless they perform some sort of favor for the officer. If a police officer attempts to blackmail you they best thing that you can do is discuss the situation with an attorney.
What should I do if my Civil Rights were violated by a Police Officer?
Police officers are thoroughly trained for their jobs, but sometimes violations of civil rights can occur.
The first thing that you should do is seek medical attention if necessary. Make sure that you are healthy before you attempt to begin a lawsuit.
After insuring that you are healthy you should document what happened to you.
It is important to have all of your evidence in order when you bring a suit for police misconduct. Take a record of what happened when the alleged police misconduct occurred. Keep mental notes of what occurred and write down what happened as soon as possible.
Additionally, keep all of your medical bills including hospital bills as well as any bills for medication or therapy. You should also take note of any witnesses who may have observed the police brutality.
If you believe that your civil rights have been violated you should contact a lawyer.
Suing a police department can often be complicated. It is in your best interest to seek out a competent lawyer to help you with your lawsuit.
The lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy are dedicated to providing our clients with excellent representation in civil rights cases.
We offer free case consultations for individuals who are attempting to determine what their rights are. This free consolation will help you determine what you should do in order to seek a remedy for a civil rights violation.
Remember that you may need two separate attorneys. One for your civil rights case and one for any criminal charges that may have been brought against you.
Keeping your cases separate could be very beneficial for your case.
Also, remember that you should seek an attorney what has experience in civil rights cases. Attorneys with experience will be able to help you walk through all of the details of your case.